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Upper class twit of the year

by: Eric B.

Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 11:34:34 AM EDT

Probably if you've been on the Facebook Internets the last 12 hours, you'vee seen mention of a piece written by Virginia Postrel for Bloomberg News. It's called, I think, "Let me pick over the bones of Detroit and take its art to places where I can look at it without setting foot in Michigan." Or something like that. Her point is that Detroit's art serves the public no matter where it is available to the public, which is true except that her idea to keep it available to the public is this:

A sale to satisfy Detroit’s creditors would certainly be a tragedy for the institution and its local constituents. But if buyers were limited to other museums, possibly even to museums in the U.S., the works wouldn’t disappear from public view. A sale could be a huge boon for art lovers (and tourists) in cities that had the bad luck to grow primarily in the second half of the 20th century -- and that are still growing today. The public trust is no less served by art in Atlanta, Phoenix or Seattle than it is by art in Detroit.

Yes, Wall Street, you're already being asked to take pennies on the dollars for loaning the city money for general operations over the years. As you accept that pittance, won't you let us rub salt on your injuries by limiting sales of the assets we are liquidating to people who will make the art available for the enjoyment of Virginia Postrel?

They very odd thing is that in the second paragraph, she quoted something I wrote about this for MLive in which I pointed out that selling art off to satisfy creditors turns a public heritage into just another money-based asset, and then she proceeded to describe other places as more worthy of the DIA's collection because there's more money behind the museum.

Just to be clear, the public trust isn't at all served by selling art works off to satisfy creditors. That diminishes the value of art, even if you could somehow confine the bidders to American art museums ... and, by the way, how on earth would you tell the VanGogh museum in Amsterdam that they can't come and make a bid for the VanGogh self-portrait that Postrel wants in Los Angeles, or Dallas, or Fort Worth. It says, "This has cultural value, but that value can be measured in dollars," which is really the opposite of how you measure cultural value.

Her column was promptly met with a chorus of righteous outrage from Michiganders, outlined by Alan Stamm at Deadline Detroit (I'm quoted at the bottom). The issue of parochialism and elitism was raised by more than one person, legitimately. The word opportunist also fits. One city's tragedy is another city's cultural windfall.

Update! ... Nancy Kaffer with the Freep has more.

Eric B. :: Upper class twit of the year
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Most agree, but...
in this quote...

"Yes, Wall Street, you're already being asked to take pennies on the dollars for loaning the city money for general operations over the years. As you accept that pittance, won't you let us rub salt on your injuries by limiting sales of the assets we are liquidating to people who will make the art available for the enjoyment of Virginia Postrel?"

Are you defending Wall Street? Personally, I don't give a damn about how or what Wall Street feels. Let's remember much of Detroit's ills can be traced back to their banks.

It's a realistic question, however. Are creditors who are already going to take a bath consider an auction that excludes bidders, so as to not make the most they can on liquidated assets? Only an idiot thinks so.

It's also discriminatory, since it's saying that one person's money is better than another person's money.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
just checking!  

[ Parent ]
Deadline Detroit reaction roundup
Thanks for your courteous link, Eric.

A freshened article updates the righteous chorus with excerpts from here and elsewhere. http://bit.ly/14Gbyrv

I'm surprised
I'm surprised that the focus of this post wasn't about the bombshell from the Freep, today, that Orr is offering creditors pennies on the dollar.  I mean, if this is him essentially saying that they are going to file bankruptcy, because I don't care how magnanimous you are, there is no way in hell you're going to get 100+ creditors to agree to that kind of insulting deal.  

The huge news is that Detroit essentially just announced it was filing for bankruptcy (something I'd been advocating for all along if the situation was as bad as Orr was saying it was), and everyone gives a collective "meh."  Excuse my French but f%ck the art; Detroit is going down.

Well, I think most of us believe bankruptcy a foregone conclusion at this point
They're just going through the motions of trying to work things out before filing. At least, I've thought it a foregone conclusion since his report in which he called the city insolvent.

At this point, I think it important to save as much of the city core as can be saved, because otherwise it's going to to go away and the region will be poorer as a whole for having lost it.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]

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